Fashion directly contributes nearly £21 billion to the UK economy and employs nearly a million people across a wide spectrum of roles and provides diverse job opportunities. The industry needs people with many different talents ranging from designers to business developers, strategists to writers, new media specialists, to photographers … and even accountants!
A degree in fashion will give you the historical and contextual knowledge that other routes into the industry might not provide. Industry projects can set a course apart and give you valuable experience while you're studying.
Fashion in the Netherlands
The Netherlands has a small but flourishing fashion culture. There are a few prestigious fashion events that take place in the Netherlands - Amsterdam International Fashion Week, which is held twice a year, the competition during the Mercedes Benz Dutch Fashion Award, and the Arnhem Fashion Biennale.
Dutch brands such as C&A, WE, MeXX, Oilily, Kuyichi and G-star are well known in the international market but a few top designers are the trendsetters in the Dutch fashion world. Viktor & Rolf are the first Dutch designers to have achieved international success and recognition.
However, today’s important Dutch designers include Alexander van Slobbe, with his own brand Orson & Bodil, Mada van Gaans, Monique van Heist, Marcha Hüskes, Sjaak Hullekes, Bas Kosters, Spijkers & Spijkers, Oscar Suleyman, Jan Taminiau, Jeroen van Tuyl, Daryl van Wouw and Iris van Herpen.
The younger generation in the Dutch royal family support Dutch fashion by including Dutch designs in their wardrobe. Princess Mabel’s wedding dress was designed by Viktor & Rolf and more recently Princess Máxima appeared wearing a dress design by Jan Taminiau made from a mail sack!
Where can you study fashion in the Netherlands?
There are three fashion schools in the Netherlands, two of which definitely teach in English.
Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam offers a bachelors degree in fashion design.
Established in 1952 Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) is currently the largest fashion institute in the Netherlands. More than 100 lecturers teach over 1100 students about all aspects of the fashion world. AMFI is also the only fashion institute in the Netherlands that covers the entire fashion chain. This ensures students have a broad perspective of the fashion industry.
AMFI’s 4 year Bachelor Degree programme has the option to specialise in either Fashion & Design, Fashion & Management or Fashion & Branding, and graduate with a Bachelor Degree in Fashion and Technology.
AMFI has its own fashion label, fashion store and magazine.
Individuals, founded in 2006, is AMFI’s design-driven fashion label. Third and fourth-year students from the three specialisations work together for six months on designing and producing a collection that’s communicated and marketed in collaboration with the fashion industry. Each collection is shown during Amsterdam Fashion Week and sold at selected stores in the Netherlands. Working for the Individuals fashion label is a unique opportunity and no other Fashion degree programme offers this experience.
Located in Amsterdam city centre, by AMFI is the statement store of AMFI. It offers a platform to showcase the beautiful work that is made by our students, teachers and alumni. A team of second year students from all three departments design inspiring concepts for the shop interior and organise events.
Every year, the 20-week minor programme Independent Fashion Magazines at AMFI gives 35 students the unique opportunity to conceptualise and create a new fashion magazine that has its own style and visual language. All the marketing and PR is undertaken by students.
What grades do I need to get in to fashion school in the Netherlands?
Grades are not usually the issue for design courses. In common with British universities, greater emphasis will be placed on your portfolio and any practical skills you have already amassed.
Obviously a keen interest in fashion is vitally important and it is worth remembering that this is not an easy subject so hard work will be required.
AMFI selects students on the basis on their performance on assessment days which are held in Amsterdam twice a year. It is necessary to attend one of these days to be considered for admission.
Will my degree be recognised?
This is not really an issue with fashion degrees. You are far more likely to be judged on the quality of your portfolio and the work experience you have gained whilst studying than the quality of your university.
However, there are still universities and fashion schools that are better connected to the fashion industry and it is worth considering this when planning to study design abroad.
Does it make sense to study fashion abroad?
This really depends on you. There are some good fashion schools in the United Kingdom so it is not necessary to go abroad in order to find a good quality education.
For all fashion disciplines from design and styling to fashion business, communication and new media, it is important to ensure that your university offers you plenty of practical experience of the working environment and opportunities to network in the fashion world. You should look for a university that can offer you excellent work placements and internships. This will assist you in finding a job after you graduate.
What else should I bear in mind?
Talent alone is not enough to guarantee success in the fashion world – ensure that the course you choose covers practical business elements. It is worthwhile investing in your skills to ensure that you have a competitive advantage.